There are some industries that seem to favor “newly-minted experts”. But publicity is not one of them. Arranging publicity takes years of experience. It takes a network of media contacts. It takes strategy expertise that only comes with time. When you want publicity for your company or product, there’s no substitute for an industry veteran such as Heather Champine.
Heather has a remarkable knack for understanding why a product story is newsworthy, and what it takes to get reporters and producers to run with it. She is a partner in our business and vice president of media production. She manages our team of publicists. She is also a strategist who counsels clients on promoting everything from breakthrough medical technology to the latest haircut trends. I asked Heather a couple questions and I think you will find her insights valuable in understanding how to use PR to promote your company, product or service.
Lonny Kocina: With 20 years of experience working with hundreds of clients, what type of client do you think benefits the most from using PR?
Heather Champine: “The clients that benefit the most are those that want to increase sales. I say this half jokingly because who doesn’t want to increase sales? But in all seriousness, I cannot think of a client who would not benefit from educating potential buyers through news stories. Typically, the best clients are those whose product needs some explaining for its benefits to be fully understood by the target audience. The client usually is not a Coca-Cola whose mere logo reminds you to buy or sparks a craving.
“The clients who really benefit from PR usually have all, or many of, the following:
1. A product or service that needs explaining.
2. Physical distribution across the U.S. and perhaps Canada. Online distribution is a good complement.
3. A new or complex product. It takes more copy or air time to explain a new or complex product than traditional ads often allow. Media stories usually allow more time for explanation.
4. Spokespeople who can talk about your product. If clients don’t already have their own spokespeople, we can connect them with qualified experts.
5. The end product/service is for the consumer versus business-to-business. There is simply a bigger media market for these stories.”
Lonny Kocina: You often mention that clients don’t have a full understanding of how we work until after they have been on board for a while. What’s the most common misconception new clients have?
Heather Champine: “Many people don’t realize that news stories are an existing promotional channel. Or, new clients may not yet be aware how to get into media stories or earn that coverage. Some clients even think that when they buy an ad or advertorial in a desired media outlet, this is what we do and it is PR. I usually have to clarify that the media stories positioning our clients or their products are a result of my team being able to earn and secure that coverage. We get all the right tools in place, from press releases and spokespeople to images and testimonials. We do not pay the news stations, radio hosts or editors to run stories for our clients.
“Another misconception is that PR is just putting a one-size-fits-all press release on a wire and hoping the media will run it. Our team helps co-produce TV segments, radio pieces, new stories and online articles with our media contacts. We call the media individually to figure out the best stories, and what is needed to make both their audience and our clients happy. This takes skill and persistence. Our team does this every day and makes it look deceptively easy!
“Lastly, most clients are surprised by how far in advance media coverage must be planned. We discuss how if you really want seasonal spring coverage in a national magazine, you should start working with the media on story ideas the previous fall.”
Once you find an experienced veteran who can help you navigate the PR industry, you’ll learn that publicity is a promotional channel that can convince and engage like none other. But make sure you use an authentic expert such as Heather to arrange your publicity. She knows what businesses must do to prepare for media coverage, and she helps clients understand how the industry really works. Don’t throw your money away by employing a startup PR agency that doesn’t know the industry.
Heather is a real asset for us and we don’t hide her away. You can speak with her directly. She enjoys talking practicalities with new contacts. Call her at 952-697-5269 or complete our contact form. She’ll listen to your goals. She’ll ask you a few questions to assess if our services would be a good fit for your product. She’ll give you recommendations for supplementing or launching your marketing plan. You’ll be glad you called.